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Old 01-04-2009, 08:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default looking for a job after 9 years unemployed... advice?

I'm now 30 years old, and I am still living with my parents. The last job that I had was in 2000. After that things went very far downhill. I've been hospitalized 3 times for episodes of major depression in which I've been virtually non-functional for months on end. I've been on disability since 2002.

The depression caused me to isolate from people to an extreme level. As a result, over the years I have lost my basic human interaction skills, which used to come so easily before. I have basically forgotten how to act around people. It's very painful. If I am put on the spot in a social situation I start to disconnect from myself and become distant from my emotions. My mind goes blank and I don't know what to say. I am always painfully self-conscious now and constantly examining myself from the outside and afraid what other people think of me. It is overwhelming to be out in public places, so now I usually just stay home.

I haven't had a major depression episode since 2005. But now it has turned into a constant low-level feeling of emptiness and apathy that is always in the background. I don't really care about anything and have no ambition to do anything. I sit around all day in my room and go from the computer to the TV to the Xbox 360 to the refrigerator and then to the cellar to work out. My life is meaningless, and I feel like I am wasting it.

The thought keeps nagging at me that I am capable of being a productive member of society, and I can't just stay here for the rest of my life. I have been going to a local community college since 2004 and actually just completed my Associates degree in computer programming (I took 4 years to finish a 2 year program ). I took as many classes as I could online, and for the ones where I had to go in I had to make accommodations with the professors to not be involved in any type of group work. It's a wonder how I did it, at times I felt excruciatingly out of place.

As difficult as I know it will be, I am thinking about starting to look for a job... I have actually racked up some substantial credit card debt and I am in urgent need of some more income. Plus it will be good for me to have something productive to do and get me out of this environment. I figure, if I can write programs in Java and develop PHP web sites, I am sure I am capable of working somewhere. It's the interaction with people that scares me the most, but the alternative is not leaving my room and not having a life.

The thing is, what do I tell a prospective employer about my job history? I never stayed at a job longer than a year, and never left on good terms (because of the depression, I ended up just leaving, some without giving notice). I could not use any job as a reference. And even if I could, that was 9+ years ago. Effectively, I am 30 years old and have no work history. Sad, isn't it?

I've been going to a local mental health clinic for 10 years. The vocational guy I meet with there told me if I am ever ready to apply for a job I have the option of letting them contact the employer and tell them about my situation and the clinic's involvement.

Obviously it would explain why I haven't worked in so long, but I am not sure if that is a good idea. It kind of puts a label on me, which I'm not sure I like. Maybe I should just tell them that I've been dealing with some issues for a number of years but now feel that they are behind me and I am ready to work (it would be a lie of course - they aren't behind me, but the truth isn't likely to help me get a job).

Writing a resume will be another adventure. I have lots of non-work experience (from sitting in my room all day on a computer), and I will have the Associates as soon as they mail me the diploma, but beyond that there will be a lot of white space.

This got longer than I wanted it to (sorry), so I'll stop here. If anyone has any advice or comments on what I've said so far, I'd love to hear them.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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I'm in almost the same exact situation. The only difference is I'm 24, and you're 30.

If you're on disability, have you considered volunteering for a computer-related company? You could explain your situation to them, stay on disability, and work for them, just for experience to have on a resume. Obviously working for free would suck, but it wouldn't really be for free. Work experience is invaluable, and if you can't find a paying job, or if being paid is part of the stress that causes your anxiety, then volunteering your time and skills would be great.
And hey, maybe after you work there for a while and tell them you're going to start applying for jobs that pay money, they'll say "Hmm well why don't we just start paying you to work here?"
At the very least, you'd have networked a bit and gained some experience.

Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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It shouldn't matter if you are looking for work straight out from getting your degree. Just put things on your resume that you feel would help get you the job. List in detail the courses you took. That will at least give employers a background in what you can do.

I was unemployed for two years following a layoff. I was very lucky I didn't go to the hospital in 2004. I was in SA so bad, I was in the fetal position rocking and was too nervous to eat. I ended up on 50mg of Paxil and 20mg of Geodon that would knock me out and then some. Since then, I am way down to 20mg of Paxil and NO Geodon and am currently working on CBT.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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You could try a temp place and see if they can get you a job, which will help with your main job search, since you can say on your resume that you're currently employed at the moment.
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Old 01-04-2009, 11:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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If you're into IT work, I would suggest volunteering for a while. It is a good way gain experience and could possibly lead to a job.
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Old 01-05-2009, 04:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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self employment man. I know i'm repeating myself here, but i started my own lawn biz because through other jobs, i have learned that i excel when alone. I know there are options for you if you make it your job to seek them. In my case, i really didn't have time to think about it. Hunger was my ambition. I had to get out of the house at 18. Sink or swim, that was my motivation. It was a rough time for my family then. My mom remarried, and i was told to find an aprtment; that's the condensed version. You need a fire under your butt. Something has to click with you to make you get mad about your situation. I remember when it clicked for me, and i had to stop jacking around. I was 30k in debt, very depressed, and everything that i tried after high school was a failure. I hope you find your path soon, you can do it. You deserve a good life.
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:00 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Here are some tips; (I was only unemployed for 3 years but these tips did help me get a good job I've now had for 2 years - my record so far on holding down a job!)

-Volunteering is the best way to start. You gain experience, but at the same time you get to fill in that CV of yours. Also in your case, it'll be an introduction back to the world of working, being outside of your house & being among people.

-Start part-time no matter what you choose. Fulltime if you can do some hours from work. But a fulltime job after 9 years, will be very very difficult for you to cope in the beginning.

-You can be very creative on your resume without lying. You have a degree, you have followed some courses, I am sure you have done so much more in the last 9 years. Think of any type of work, voluntary or not you have done for your family, relatives.

-As references you can ask your teachers from college you graduated from. If you explain to them what your situation is and your willingless to go back to the work-field, I am sure they will be more than glad to help you out.

-in the meantime, try to fill in those gaps in your resume from this moment on. Volunteer from home. There is so much you can do from behind your desk, your phone.

-slowly try to think of answers to questions future possible employers will be asking you during the job interview; (this is also a great way to get to know yourself)
-why you didn't work for a while?
- your hobbies, interests?
- your strenghts, your weaknesses?
- why they should hire you and not someone else?
- what your goals in life are?
- what you look for in a job?

The most important thing is to be positive and NOT to give up. Each experience should make you a stronger you, not weaker.

Good luck!!!
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Old 01-05-2009, 08:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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I agree with Victoriangirl. Just to add to what she said, try going to dice.com. They have IT jobs that you could freelance on small jobs to get your feet wet again.

This will make you boss of yourself which comes with pros and cons.

It's great because there will be no pressure to measure yourself against your coworkers.

It's hard because you will have to be diligent and dedicated to getting the job done yourself without anyone prodding you to do it.

If you take on small jobs and gain some positive experiences completing them, you'll be all the better.

Good luck!!
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Wow, thank you very much for your responses, everyone. There is a lot of good advice in this thread. I would probably want to start off with a relatively mindless part time/temp job that wouldn't require a lot of thought. I figure, just being out of my house and in a work environment with other people is going to be enough for me to deal with. A challenging job that requires critical thought on top of that would be a bit too much for me to handle.

Ideally, a first job to get me back into working would be something I could do on my own that would require little to no interaction with people (i.e. data entry). With the current state of the economy and the job market though, I may have to settle for less than ideal. The phrase "beggars can't be choosers" comes to mind.

There is a government sponsored program pretty close by where I live called OSR (Office of Rehabilitative Services). They are basically a temp service specifically for people with disabilities. I used to be in their database several years back but since I never returned their phone calls because of depression/apathy I am pretty sure I am no longer on it. I am thinking about re-registering with them.

In the meantime, I am going to try to put a resume together based on what little I have to work with. Volunteering seems like a good suggestion to help build experience for my "career path" (which is just theoretical at this point), but I really need a source of income as soon as possible.

I get very intimidated just thinking about applying for an IT job that would use the skills I have learned. Completing a college program is one thing, but actually applying those skills to a paying job is another. I always imagine my mind going blank during the interview and looking like a complete idiot. What if I don't have enough experience and don't know what they're talking about? I always replay that scenario in my head.

Anyway, I'll keep you all posted if anything happens. Thanks again!
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:27 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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I agree 100% with howard about self employment. My latest unemployment has been going on for about 10 months and pretty much every single job I've quit or got fired from was because of severe anxiety. So yeah I want to start my own business and be my own boss because I just can't deal with working for people and coworkers and all that crap. My friend and I want to start an amateur video business if you know what I mean.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:56 AM   #11 (permalink)
 
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just checked out your 80's videos. Wow, good stuff. Brings back alot of memories. I had alot of videos saved, put i think they are starting to get pulled because of copyright? Believe it or not, that's the first time i saw the "Der Kommissar" video.
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Old 01-05-2009, 12:27 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Yeah I grew up in the 80's and love all the videos on youtube. Yes, Warner Music is taking videos down from youtube. A few of mine have disappeared too.
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Old 06-21-2009, 09:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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I relate to the OP so much because I also have a liberal arts degree and no job. I am also in my early 30s and I don't want to waste my life away anymore. I have found jobs but I freak out and walk out of them.

I have volunteered this year but that found that to be boring.
I don't want to be this way anymore and I want to change my life. Since early March this year I started to attend a social anxiety support group. I like the support group and I feel it has been a positive experience for me.

I have also been assessed by a clinical psychologist and I am on the waiting list for CBT group therapy. The interview for the therapy is this week. I also feel guilty sometimes about the mistakes I had made when I was young.

I also slipped into a deep depression and felt horrible about myself.
I realize negative thinking will not change my life but its hard looking for work. I love to write and I have been writing professionally for the past seven years. I have looked for writing jobs but seem to only get freelance work. I have applied back to college and looking at getting a skill in a field.
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Old 06-22-2009, 02:38 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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I don't know what to say.

Even if my SA magically went away, which doesn't seem at all likely after decades imprisoned in this hell what the hell would I tell an employer?

I have a college degree in finance and graduated with honors and did so in the standard 4 years. Only problem is that I graduated in May 1995 and it's now 14 years and 1 month since then and I've never worked a day since.

I suspect that no employer has ever seen anything as extreme as me. I think I top everyone on this board in terms of length of time not working or being in school. At least partially because many SAS members aren't old enough to have possibly managed to waste 14 years.
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Old 06-22-2009, 12:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Well you can't argue with self employment or those websites. Those are good ideas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheAntipop View Post
The vocational guy I meet with there told me if I am ever ready to apply for a job I have the option of letting them contact the employer and tell them about my situation and the clinic's involvement.
I think letting your clinic contact a possible employer is a good idea. I mean I don't think there are two ways about it. You'll have to explain your lack of work. I think they mostly care about people being in jail, and stuff like that, though I really don't know.

I supposed you could kinda lie and say you were self employed or helping with a chronically ill person in the family.

(Technically this is not a lie actually...the chronically ill person would be you.) :P

I would search and post on job finding forums where someone from human resources could tell you how they have handled situations like that. Nothing like advice from someone who has actually dealt with issue like that.

I'd give the clinic referral a try, but that's just me. It lends legitimacy to your explanation, and also maybe appeals to an employer's sense of sympathy? But I totally understand your worries. I'd really check out employment forums! Hell, maybe even call a company anonymously and explain the situation and explain if you should apply or not?
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Old 06-22-2009, 03:39 PM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickthegreat View Post
I supposed you could kinda lie and say you were self employed or helping with a chronically ill person in the family.
I've done this. I went a year with out a job and I wrote down that I was "freelancing"

Temp agency is your best bet.

Also try craigslist!
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Old 03-29-2011, 02:01 AM   #17 (permalink)
 
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I just want to say i am so sorry for what you are going through. It is really tough and i have to much sympathy to everyone on here struggling with socail anxiety.

I am going on my third year being unemployed and am going absolutely nuts. I often feel so depressed and don't want to leave my house on the worst days my bedroom. Like you said alternating from the computer to the tv. And i just feel so worthless and like my life is going no where right now and that i am losing all of my friends. But it is nice to see i am not alone in this... most of the time i feel like i am.

It's like you want so badly to leave the house... but you just can't it's like being in a prison.

At the moment i don't know if this is any help. But i am focusing on doing one thing a day that challenges me or that i am dreading doing. Wheather it be going for a walk for five minutes down the road or going to a social anxiety group. I think it's just about pushing yourself and trying your best.

I still don't know how to start going to school or getting a job? Cause i am terrified of everything. I graduated 3 years ago... and feel like i need a change or to start somewhere or i will go nuts! any ideas?

Dear Antipop,
thank you for posting this. I am sorry for what you are going through. You are not alone, know that. I don't have a specific answer for you cause i have no idea where to start etheir. But like i said i think trying to do one thing a day that is challenging is a start.


would love to hear feedback,
thanks alot
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Old 04-21-2014, 11:51 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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once again google brought me here.
i have pretty much been "unemployed" for 9 years except for a total of 8 months of work (sad i know). I have been studying throughout most of this time but its just to give me something to do.
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:22 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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I got into work after a lengthy period of unemployment by lying. I got the lowest kind of work I could get by lying about my employment history - they don't always check. I now had a job they could get a reference from and I also embellished it by inventing other jobs and told them about how I'd been travelling and working abroad. I've worked ever since. Maybe that's not right but I had no alternative.
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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TheAntipop,

I too am unemployed, although only recently. One thing that I have found is that temp agencies are a good resource. Don't ever agree to give one money for anything, but many of the temp services I'm working with offer job specific training, up to and including resume building. It's free, so all it takes a few minutes of your time. It sounds like you have great computer skills. I would stress those aspects of your knowledge (for example, can you do pivot tables in excel? etc) and all of the software you are familiar with.

I would not lie on the resume, but there are ways of saying something without saying something. I was fired b/c my boss hated me; how do you answer that question? I've been saying I was laid off and if they push, it is we had a disagreement that we couldn't resolve. Even if you don't get a job, accepting an interview from a temp service will give you the practice at interviewing. I have one of those tomorrow. There are a TON of jobs on monster.com and craigslist that list the only requirement as a HS diploma. I just picked up a book called the 101 Toughest interview questions and it also has some get advice for how to answer things. I'm borrowing it from the library.

I wish you the best and hope that things get better soon!
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